Mummy Forensics

A 6-part series for History UK and AETN International. Produced by Firefly.Distributed by AETN International.

In the dark recesses of a dusty stone building near Newcastle’s city centre lies the mummy of an Egyptian Man who died thousands of years ago. His strong jaw and noble brow have been perfectly preserved for eternity. But all is not what it seems. Before he was mummified, the man was bludgeoned, then garrotted, and only his head survives… 

The number of ancient mummy-related mysteries is on the rise: mummies from all over the world are at the heart of enigmas from identity theft to murder. Can the newly formed Mummy Research Group at York University, use state of the art science and old-fashioned detective skills to solve These cases? 

Ep 1: The Missing Body 
In a museum in the heart of England lies a bodiless mummy. Dr Joann Fletcher and York University’s Mummy Investigation Team are called in to discover who he was and whether his death was as grizzly as it looks. 

Using cutting edge science from 3D imaging used at modern crime scenes, to GCMS chemical testing, the team gradually unpick the story of this man, astonishingly, from his head alone. What they discover is the story of a gilded life gone wrong – one which holds at its heart an unpleasant truth about humanity.

Ep 2: The Sealed Coffin

Dr Joann Fletcher is on a mission, she and the Mummy Investigation Team at York University have been called in to look at a mysterious case – a female mummy inside a beautifully painted Egyptian coffin. There’s only one catch, they’re not allowed to open the coffin. In one of the teams’ most unusual cases they must solve the mystery of this woman’s demise without ever having access to her mummy. Using everything in their power the investigation combines Xray and CT scans with facial reconstruction and facial modelling to discover who this woman was and how she died. But none of them is prepared for the grizzly tale they eventually unravel. 

Ep 3: The Misfit 

A body inside a coffin which it is too large for, missing genitals, and an obvious overbite are the clues which set the Mummy Investigation Team on the trail in this mystery. They know who the coffin was made for – a female Egyptian temple dancer – what they need to know is who rests there now and why this mummy is in such strange condition. Extraordinarily, what they discover is a tragic tale played out at the highest echelons of Egyptian society, set at the court of one of Egypt’s greatest Pharaohs.

Ep. 4: The Screamer 

In the storage room of a Victorian Museum in the heart of Northern Britain, lies the mummy of a Peruvian man. He has been trussed up in typical Peruvian style to hold his body in a seated posture after death, and like many Peruvian mummies he appears to be screaming. But something is not right. The cord used to tie his arms together is not the twine used in most cases – it’s leather and it extends around his arms. The team takes a journey back in time to when this man lived in Peru around 1200AD. They discover that he held a prominent place within his culture, and that the way he was mummified reflected who he was in life. They also discover a secret preserved in the skin of this mummy which challenges history as we know it.

Ep 5: The Pierced Skull 

When the Mummy Investigation Team is called out to look at the body of a South American mummy on display in a mansion museum, they believe they are onto their easiest case yet. The mummy has a number of visible wounds and, alarmingly, a large hole in its skull. But the team must set aside their preconceptions that this man was the victim of a foul crime, and allow forensic science to take its course. In their most active investigation yet, it’s field archaeology and old fashioned detective work which ultimately provide the keys to cracking this case.

Ep 6: The Fisherman Mystery 

In a hidden corner of a London storage facility lies an ancient Peruvian mummy that has hardly seen the light of day in almost 100 years. Most mummies from ancient Peru were either bundled in a foetal position or laid out flat. But for some mysterious reason this Peruvian mummy has been buried in an unusual cross-legged posture. For the Mummy Investigation Team the position of the mummy proves to be the starting point of a thrilling case – one which challenges our preconceptions and proves that certain legends just might be true.